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Hotels with Natural Swimming Pools in the UK, France, Spain and Italy

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Posted by Richard Hammond at 01:33 on Saturday 05 January 2013
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Our selection of hotels, gîtes, treehouses, agriturismos and other lovely places to stay with natural swimming pools in the UK, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal

The blissful natural pool at Orion B&B and Treehouse in the South of France. Photo: Richard HammondThe blissful natural pool at Orion B&B and Treehouse in the South of France. Photo: Richard HammondCompared with a chlorinated swimming pool, a dip in a natural pool can feel much more refreshing. Designs vary, but they generally all work on the same premise: a wall separates a foil- or rubber-lined swimming area from an aquatic plant garden, whose marsh plants and sand act as a natural filter for oxygenizing and cleaning the water. Because they are designed in tune with the natural environment, they are wildlife-friendly, so don't be surprised if, while you're relaxing poolside, you see dragonflies and butterflies flittering across  the water. Thankfully, hoteliers are increasingly installing these natural, eco-friendly alternatives. Here are some of our favourites:

Agroturismo Can Marti, Ibiza, Spain: A beautiful, authentic and organic farmhouse in a quiet and idyllic spot in the unspoilt north of the island. This has long been a favourite of mine, a wonderfully peacefully part of the island, far from the crowds of Ibiza Town and near some great beaches. Even better, it has recently installed a hamman and this wonderful natural swimming pool (below). >> Can Marti

The new natural swimming pool at the fabulously relaxing Ca Marti farm, Ibiza. Photo: Can MartiThe new natural swimming pool at the fabulously relaxing Ca Marti farm, Ibiza. Photo: Can Marti

Le Camp, Southwest France: A luxury six-tented camp in an oak woodland overlooking the green valley of the Aveyron, an hour northwest of Toulouse. Each tent is on a raised wooden platform and every pitch has been carefully chosen "for its views, privacy and mood". The 45m² Giant Yurt is great for larger families or groups. 

Pride of place is the glorious 20m-long natural swimming pool. Expect a large buffet breakfast which includes locally sourced fruit, jams, saucisson, honeys and cheeses. Owners will also help book and plan the journey of anyone who wishes to arrive by train and offer a free transfer to and from the local train stations.  They also provide bicycles for guests to borrow free of charge, including trailers and tagalongs for kids. >> Le Camp

The smart interior of one of the yurts at Le Camp. Photos: Le CampThe smart interior of one of the yurts at Le Camp. Photos: Le Camp

The beautiful treehouses at Orion, near St Paul de Vence, France.The beautiful treehouses at Orion, near St Paul de Vence, France.Orion B&B & Treehouses, Saint-Paul de Vence, France: Close to the stunning medieval fortified village of St Paul de Vence inland from the French Riviera, Orion's tree houses are one of the most stylish we've visited. The stand-alone tree-houses are built among oak and pine trees, 30m-high, and are reached via an outer wooden staircase where you climb up to a large double bedroom and ensuite bathroom. The treehouses come in all shapes and sizes, from the double-decker Colonel Hathi to the family-friendly combination of King Louis and Mowgli, where kids can have their own little adventure. There's also an additional cottage for those looking to keep their feet on solid ground. Back on terra firma, you can relax by a gorgeous natural outdoor pool and there is also an eco-friendly sauna where you can treat yourself to a Turkish Bath. >> Orion B&B & Treehouses 

>> More Treehouse Holidays

>> See all our Green Places to Stay

The cosy interior of a treehouse overlooking the natural pool at Orion B&B. Photo: OrionThe cosy interior of a treehouse overlooking the natural pool at Orion B&B. Photo: Orion

The natural swimming pool at Il Paluffo, Italy.The natural swimming pool at Il Paluffo, Italy.

Il Paluffo: A collection of small villas and B&Bs in a 15th Century historic building in the Chianti hills in Tuscany, not far from Florence and Siena. Along with the wonderful natural swimming pool, the buildings are managed in an eco-senstive manner: electricity is produced by a 12kWatt photovoltaic system; heating and cooling systems use renewable energy: there are heat pumps powered by photovoltaic panels, hot water heating using thermal solar panel and pellet boilers in addition to the heating system; rainwater is collected and used for irrigation, while waste water is regenerated through herbal purification methods. Impressive! 

>> Il Paluffo

Chaumarty, French Pyrenees: An eco-gîte south of Toulouse, southwest France. Irises, waterlilies, and papyrus line the water’s edge of the 42 square metre natural pool “bassin de baignade” (below), plus there’s a diving board and a smaller pool for children. Adjacent to the pools is a large terrace where you can lay your towels and admire the mountain panorama all day long. >> Chaumarty

The 42-square metre pool has wonderful views of the French countryside. Photo: François Depuis, provided by Chaumarty.The 42-square metre pool has wonderful views of the French countryside. Photo: François Depuis, provided by Chaumarty.

Great for kids: the family friendly Chaumarty. Photo: Chaumarty.Great for kids: the family friendly Chaumarty. Photo: Chaumarty.Little White Alice, Carnmenellis, Cornwall: Award-winning six self catering holiday cottages in the heart of Cornwall. Self sufficient in energy and water with wood burners, a natural swimming pool, nature reserve and 25 acres of land. Close to North and South coasts. Little White Ailce was included in the Guardian Green Travel List 2011 (organised by Greentraveller) which celebrated innovation in sustainable tourism. >> Little White Alice 

The award-winning Little White Alice, Cornwall. Photo: Tom Watts/GreentravellerThe award-winning Little White Alice, Cornwall. Photo: Tom Watts/GreentravellerThe Scarlet Hotel, Cornwall, England: A lovely, smart hotel built to high eco standards, overlooking the sea on the Cornish coast. Be pampered in the luxurious Ayurvedic spa, sample delicious locally sourced food or take some time out to reflect and enjoy the views from the outdoor natural swimming pool. >> The Scarlet Hotel 

La Jument Verte, Aix-les-Bains, France: A guesthouse /country inn on a 17th Century Farm, above the spa town of Aix-Les-Bains, and the beautiful Lake du Bourget, in the Regional Natural Park of the Bauges. >> La Jument Verte

La Jument Verte is above the spa town of Aix-Les-Bains. Photo: La Jument Verte.La Jument Verte is above the spa town of Aix-Les-Bains. Photo: La Jument Verte.

Muxima, Algarve, Portugal: a single storey farmstead that Jorge and his wife, Sofia, have turned into a splendid rural guesthouse. About an hour's drive north-west of Faro, Muxima is technically in the Algarve but, according to Jorge, the lifestyle here is more like that in the Alentejo, so he calls it the "Alengarve"! >> Muxima

The tranquil rooms at Muxima, southwest Portugal. Photo: Richard HammondThe tranquil rooms at Muxima, southwest Portugal. Photo: Richard HammondMaking a splash: the large natural pool is popular with guests at Muxima, southwest Portugal. Photo: Rhiannon BattenMaking a splash: the large natural pool is popular with guests at Muxima, southwest Portugal. Photo: Rhiannon Batten

This featured was inspired by the Natural Pools feature in Great Escapes, pubished by Rough Guides, co-written by Richard Hammond and Jeremy Smith (former editor of the Ecologist).

Useful Information:

>> British Assocation for Natural Swimming Pools
>> Outdoor Swimming Society
>> wildswimming.co.uk

>> See all our Green Places to Stay

By Richard Hammond.

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